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Family could face child custody battle over wandering child

Every so often a disturbing case involving suspected child abuse or neglect makes the news. Very often, however, there is more to the story than what is initially reported. Even when Texas authorities remove a child from his or her home, the family is often able to regain child custody after a thorough investigation is completed. A recent example from another state has led to a child being held in protective custody after he was found wandering on the side of a busy road. 

A motorist saw the boy, who is believed to be between the ages of 3 and 4, and stopped her car to help. She called police, and they arrives and began searching the local area to try and find the child's family. They were unable to connect with anyone claiming a lost child, and resorted to releasing a photo of the child to local media. 

The boy's mother was contacted on Facebook by someone who saw the photo, and called police. She was unaware that her son was missing. Upon initial investigation, police believe that the boy was home before he wandered away, and that a teenage relative may have been tasked with watching him at that time. 

The boy remains in the custody of Child Protective Services as police continue to look into the matter. While many are outraged that a small child would be able to walk away from home and to a dangerous roadway, it's important to remember that families have many different child care arrangements. It is entirely possible that multiple caregivers take turns looking after this child, and that a misunderstanding or scheduling error led to a period of time when he was unattended.

If his mother believed that he was spending the night with a relative, she might have been completely unaware that her son was missing. In similar cases in Texas and elsewhere, the family was able to have their child custody rights restored. Until more details are made available, it is simply too soon to reach any conclusions about this matter. 

Source: chicago.cbslocal.com, "Child Wandering Alone In Northwest Indiana In Protective Custody", Mai Martinez, April 12, 2018

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